Utilise any fear in your golf mind to hit more greens and fairways


How can golf psychology help you in overcoming the fear you have about hitting a bad shot on the golf course? Many people interpret this as classic fear of someone suffering from the putting yips who’s about to putt or the person suffering form the shanks and about to hit a short iron. But you can get the same type of fear when faced with a shot that you "always" hit badly or a hole that you always play badly. Perhaps your ball seems inexorably drawn to those trees on the right or that bunker on the left. Maybe it’s a water hazard that you just "never" seem to be able to carry.

Now one of the first things I learned in golf psychology was that "What the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves" to quote Robert Anton Wilson in his famous book about how the mind works, Prometheus Rising. In hypnosis terms this means that whatever we consciously think about we unconsciously make happen. In simple terms, if we consciously think about an ice-cream we unconsciously decide we want one and instinctively begin to taste one. If you’re driving on a motorway and someone draws your conscious attention to something way off to the right, you may suddenly notice yourself unconsciously steering in that direction.

Have you ever noticed how if you tell someone to not do something accidentally, that they automatically seem to do it anyway? This is especially true with children, so if you say to a child, "don’t spill your milk", then don’t be surprised if they to do just that. Contrary to what some believe, children don’t do this out of spite, it’s just what you made them consciously think about.

So what’s all this got to do with the fear of hitting a bad shot then Andrew? Well, you have to consciously think the bunker you don’t want to go in to fear going in it. The same goes for your fear of hitting a shank or yipping a putt. But, I hear you say, I make a point of thinking to myself "don’t hit it in the bunker" rather than just thinking about the bunker. Well, it makes no difference to the outcome, because you have to think of a thing in order to not do it. If I say don’t think of a blue elephant, you have to imagine a blue elephant to know what I’m talking about. The same goes for thinking of not hitting the ball into the bunker. If that’s in your head when you hit the ball, then you’ll unconsciously do your best to it there.

I’ve hear Paul McKenna tell a good story about this. He had a top golfer, one who’d already won major championships, come to him for help. The golfer explained that he was consistently hitting shots into bunkers and not just any bunkers. These were the bunkers he specifically wanted to avoid and he wasn’t just rolling into them, his ball was landing right in the middle of them. Paul watched him play a few holes then gave him a simple verbal instruction to follow for the next few holes. Amazingly, the champion golfer started hitting almost every shot just where he wanted to. So what did Paul say to him? He told him to decide on where he wanted to land the ball on each shot and then focus on not hitting the ball there. He was now consciously thinking about his target, not the bunkers.

So next time you’re out playing golf and you start saying to yourself "don’t go in that bunker", "don’t shank this shot" or something similar. Then compensate for your fear by stopping and rethinking your target taking into account whatever you’d like to avoid. Now focus your conscious mind on that new target before handing over control to your unconscious golf mind to hit the shot. For a more positive slant on all this, have a look at my earlier blog article entitled Focus your golf mind on your target not the hazard for better golf scores.

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